Muslims in Europe feel vulnerable to rising hostility


PARIS: Jian Omar, a Berlin lawmaker of Kurdish-Syrian background, feels unprotected by police after suffering hate-filled flyers mixed with glass and faeces, a broken window and a hammer-wielding assailant since Oct 7.

The three incidents at Omar’s constituency office form part of increased hostility to Muslims in Europe fanned at times by politicians since the Hamas raid, more than 30 community leaders and advocates said, adding that incidents were under-reported because of low trust in police.

“I feel really alone and if somebody with the status of an elected official can’t be protected then how must others feel? said Omar. He said police were investigating but had told him they could not offer extra security at his premises.

“Imagine if a white German politician was attacked by a migrant or a refugee, he said, suggesting security forces would do more in such cases. Berlin police did not reply to a request for comment.

Hate crime has risen dramatically in Europe, official data shows a significant, smaller increase in anti-Muslim incidents in Britain and is patchy for the other two countries.

It does not fully capture the extent of attacks and hostility against individuals and mosques, including children targeted at school, according to the people, some of whom asked not to be named citing fear of retaliation.

Zara Mohammed, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said government language, such as calling pro-Palestinian protests “hate marches,” had made the fight against anti-Semitism and for the rights of Muslims or Palestinians a zero-sum game in many people’s minds.

European Muslims’ sense of vulnerability was further heightened with the electoral victory last week of Dutch far-right populist Geert Wilders, who previously called for mosques and the Holy Quran to be banned in the Netherlands. In the United States, there has been deadly anti-Palestinian violence since Oct 7.

At the Ibn Ben Badis Mosque in Nanterre, Paris, elderly worshippers fear attending the dawn prayer in the dark, two worshippers there said, after a written arson threat against the mosque in late October apparently from a far-right sympathiser.

Rachid Abdouni, the mosque president, said a request for extra police protection was not met. Local police said they were patrolling the area but were low on resources, he said. The police did not immediately respond to a comment request.

“Do I want my daughter to grow up in this climate?” said Khalil Raboun, 42, a French-Moroccan taxi driver, speaking after Friday prayers outside the